• Dr. Jill Bakke


So many stressors exist in modern society that it sometimes seems impossible to escape them. We can, however, lessen them by simplifying our life to make space for relaxation and renewal. Our hearts hunger for that and yet, we often seek the outlet for that hunger in shopping, spending and more activity.

I know your questions: "What can I simplify, and how can I do it?" Let’s investigate.

1. Delegating: This was really very difficult for me. I will tell you a secret: I used to be a perfectionist and when I delegated perfection had to be the exact way I would have handled it. No one could do it right but me, so I couldn’t delegate. Even I couldn’t do it right for me despite spending more time on a project than was necessary. So learning to delegate begins by challenging yourself. Are you really concerned that the delegated item not be perfect? Or are you more concerned that someone else might do it better?

Do you know that every successful CEO surrounds himself/herself with people who can do it better? No one can do everything best, so that successful CEO seeks people who can do what needs to be done the very best that it can be done. And they also recognize that some delegated tasks don’t depend on perfection, they depend on the task getting done so the next step can occur.

And here’s a thought: Is your way the ONLY right way? Literally dozens of ways exist to make an omelet. In life that variety of ways appears for almost everything. Our way while right in our eyes, might be wrong in someone else’s eyes. But let’s look at this a bit further.

In delegating to our children we want them to do it our way, so when they don’t we feel unhappy. Children need to learn how to do things, so the first thing is to consider it a training session. Tell them how to improve and live with the situation (whether it is a vacuuming job, cutting the grass or cleaning their rooms) until the next time. Then remind them of what they need to improve. Oh, and while you are living with the imperfect situation, try to remind yourself that life isn’t perfect. No one is perfect. We all have battle scars and warts. The world is duality, night and day, male and female, big and little, young and old, so what is perfect in one situation is not always perfect in another.

2. Volunteering: Look at the outside activities you have taken on. Why do you volunteer? Is it because the work you are taking on reflects your heart’s interest or is it to booster self-esteem? Your worth is not judged by how much you do. Self-esteem comes from within, not from without. The without) often stokes our ego, but its reward doesn’t stay with us long.

True self-esteem comes from loving self, and from that love of self, moving to love others and the environment in which we life. Some of the most productive and helpful members of our society are names we have never heard. They are people who quietly go about their day. They smile at the clerk in the store, who may have just finished helping a customer who was stressed, cranky and rude. With that smile, the clerk’s day brightens and her energy changes. They write a note to a shut-in friend or elderly relative, and both of their days are brightened when the note is acknowledged. They share the produce from the garden. The acts are from the heart and not from the giver’s position in society.

Now, I want to make it clear that you can have a position in society and be acknowledged for your good work and it comes from your heart. The problem here is that many take on an outside activity to present themselves in a light which serves to make them look good or because they can’t say no. Such reasons have the same feeling as perfection issues. And while I am not religious, 1 Corinthians, 13 speaks to the fact that charity without love is worthless. Perhaps in all outside activities we need to ask ourselves this one simple question: “AM I DOING THIS BECAUSE I LOVE TO DO IT?” If not stop doing it; get rid of the stress it creates on your time and energy.

3. Hoarding:. Why do we need so many possession? We have stuff, stuff and more stuff that we don’t wear and use. Every possession we have takes upkeep, time and energy.

The crystal needs to be washed. The furniture needs to be polished and dusted. Material goods take up space and cost money to buy. Start with your clothes closet. Most of us have at least two sizes hanging there as well as things we haven’t worn in years. While recovering from my knee replacement I went through two and half years of magazines, getting them out of the house for others to enjoy, making space and reducing clutter in mine. And after you do that, take a few moments once in a while to keep the pile down.

The idea is to get rid of what you are not using. If you think you have to save it pack it away out of sight, under the bed, in a box in the closet, or out in the garage. And then at some point look at it again. I have difficulty with paper: ideas, my own and others, photos I might use in a collage, coupons I might use. If I put them in a box and set the box away, when I open it most of the stuff ends up in recycling.

4. Minimizing Clutter: Clutter is one of the most important issues to address in easing stress. It is hard to work efficiently in clutter. There are lots of good books on the market on how to reduce clutter. Check the library and see what they have to offer in this genre rather than spending money to buy. Read a couple and apply the ideas that you can live with. Clutter affects us visually and often makes things difficult to find. It somehow clutters our brain as well as our surroundings. Reducing clutter is one of the biggest thing I have found to ease my stress. I work more efficiently with a clean desk and uncluttered room.

There are other stressors, many in interpersonal relations and communication, and we can address those in the future. For the present look at the four above. Use the time they create for you to pamper yourself: a nice long bubble bath, a walk in the park or the trail through the woods, time for a good book or concert and see if your stress is not lessened.

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